Friday, February 10, 2012


One of the features of Alex's new bed is that it has a desk underneath, giving him a nice place to do homework and put his computer. The image I've always had of the Batcomputer has involved a big, wrap-around screen:

Part of this was easy. We had a modestly-sized LCD monitor kicking around upstairs, so we just plugged that in, doubling his screen size. But to make his "computer" bigger still, we went low-tech to create something that looked like a computer screen but wasn't. I started with a relatively inexpensive shadow box from the craft store, a pair of inexpensive USB LED light bars (ordered through Amazon; they took a month to get here because they were shipped from China, but they were very inexpensive), a cheap USB hub, and a sheet of photocopier transparency "paper."

The cheapness of the shadow box was an asset here. Better kinds have a hinged front. For the inexpensive model, you have to take the back off, like a picture frame. That made it easier to cut off two corners of the back, making an opening just big enough in each for the light bar cables to run through.

A coating of foil on the backing, a little superglue to hold the light bars in place, and a map of Gotham printed on the transparency sheet. The edges fit just under the frame quite nicely.

The base is even simpler. Two bits of a thick dowel fastened to a small wooden oval from the craft store. Paint black and attach to the "monitor" portion. Plug the USB cables into a small hub, plug that into a USB port, and there it is.

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